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What are USC's admission requirements? While there are a lot of pieces that go into a college application, you should focus on only a few critical things:
In this guide we'll cover what you need to get into USC and build a strong application.
This school is also known as: University of Southern California
If you want to get in, the first thing to look at is the acceptance rate. This tells you how competitive the school is and how serious their requirements are.
The acceptance rate at USC is 20%. For every 100 applicants, 20 are admitted.
This means the school is very selective. If you meet USC's requirements for GPA, SAT/ACT scores, and other components of the application, you have a great shot at getting in. But if you fall short on GPA or your SAT/ACT scores, you'll have a very low chance of being admitted, even if you meet the other admissions requirements.
Many schools specify a minimum GPA requirement, but this is often just the bare minimum to submit an application without immediately getting rejected.
The GPA requirement that really matters is the GPA you need for a real chance of getting in. For this, we look at the school's average GPA for its current students.
(Most schools use a weighted GPA out of 4.0, though some report an unweighted GPA.
With a GPA of 3.73, USC requires you to be above average in your high school class. You'll need at least a mix of A's and B's, with more A's than B's. You can compensate for a lower GPA with harder classes, like AP or IB classes. This will show that you're able to handle more difficult academics than the average high school student.
If you're currently a junior or senior, your GPA is hard to change in time for college applications. If your GPA is at or below the school average of 3.73, you'll need a higher SAT or ACT score to compensate. This will help you compete effectively against other applicants who have higher GPAs than you.
Each school has different requirements for standardized testing. Most schools require the SAT or ACT, and many also require SAT subject tests.
You must take either the SAT or ACT to submit an application to USC. More importantly, you need to do well to have a strong application.
Many schools say they have no SAT score cutoff, but the truth is that there is a hidden SAT requirement. This is based on the school's average score.
The average SAT score composite at USC is a 2075 on the old 2400 SAT scale.
On the new 1600 SAT. this corresponds to an average SAT score of 1450 .
This score makes USC Strongly Competitive for SAT test scores.
The 25th percentile New SAT score is 1360, and the 75th percentile New SAT score is 1530. In other words, a 1360 on the New SAT places you below average, while a 1530 will move you up to above average .
Aspiring Trojans who need a leg up in their USC application should use our specialty tutoring advice for the Los Angeles area in their test preparation.
Here's the breakdown of new SAT scores by section:
The Score Choice policy at your school is an important part of your testing strategy.
USC has the Score Choice policy of "Highest Section."
This is also known as "superscoring." This means that you can choose which SAT tests you want to send to the school. Of all the scores they receive, your application readers will consider your highest section scores across all SAT test dates you submit .
Click below to learn more about how superscoring critically affects your test strategy.
For example, say you submit the following 3 test scores:
Even though the highest total you scored on any one test date was 1300, USC will take your highest section score from all your test dates, then combine them to form your Superscore. You can raise your composite score from 1300 to 2100 in this example.
This is important for your testing strategy. Because you can choose which tests to send in, and USC forms your Superscore, you can take the SAT as many times as you want, then submit only the tests that give you the highest Superscore. Your application readers will only see that one score.
Therefore, if your SAT superscore is currently below a 2230, we strongly recommend that you consider prepping for the SAT and retaking it. You have a very good chance of raising your score, which will significantly boost your chances of getting in.
Even better, because of the Superscore, you can focus all your energy on a single section at a time. If your Reading score is lower than your other sections, prep only for the Reading section, then take the SAT. Then focus on Math for the next test, and so on. This will surely give you the highest Superscore possible.
Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and SAT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
Just like for the SAT, USC likely doesn't have a hard ACT cutoff, but if you score too low, your application will get tossed in the trash.
The average ACT score at USC is 31. This score makes USC Strongly Competitive for ACT scores.
The 25th percentile ACT score is 29, and the 75th percentile ACT score is 33.
Even though USC likely says they have no minimum ACT requirement, if you apply with a 29 or below, you'll have a very hard time getting in, unless you have something else very impressive in your application. There are so many applicants scoring 31 and above that a 29 will look academically weak.
If you're taking the ACT as opposed to the SAT, you have a huge advantage in how you send scores, and this dramatically affects your testing strategy.
Here it is: when you send ACT scores to colleges, you have absolute control over which tests you send. You could take 10 tests, and only send your highest one. This is unlike the SAT, where many schools require you to send all your tests ever taken.
This means that you have more chances than you think to improve your ACT score. To try to aim for the school's ACT requirement of 33 and above, you should try to take the ACT as many times as you can. When you have the final score that you're happy with, you can then send only that score to all your schools.
By and large, most colleges do not superscore the ACT. (Superscore means that the school takes your best section scores from all the test dates you submit, and then combines them into the best possible composite score). Thus, most schools will just take your highest ACT score from a single sitting.
We weren't able to find the school's exact ACT policy, which most likely means that it does not Superscore. Regardless, you can choose your single best ACT score to send in to USC, so you should prep until you reach our recommended target ACT score of 33.
Studying for the ACT instead? Want to learn how to improve your ACT score by 4 points?
Download our free guide on the top 5 strategies you must be using to improve your score. This guide was written by Harvard graduates and ACT perfect scorers. If you apply the strategies in this guide, you'll study smarter and make huge score improvements.
Both the SAT and ACT have a Writing section that includes an essay.
USC requires you to take the SAT/ACT Writing section. They'll use this as another factor in their admissions consideration.
Schools vary in their SAT subject test requirements. Typically, selective schools tend to require them, while most schools in the country do not.
We did not find information that USC requires SAT subject tests, and so most likely it does not. At least 6 months before applying, you should still doublecheck just to make sure, so you have enough time to take the test.
Because this school is very selective, strong academic scores are critical to improving your chances of admission. If you're able to score a 2230 SAT or a 33 ACT or above, you'll have a very strong chance at getting in.
For a school as selective as USC, rounding out the rest of your application will also help. We'll cover those details next.
But if you apply with a score below a 2230 SAT or a 33 ACT, you unfortunately have a low chance of getting in. There are just too many other applicants with high SAT/ACT scores and strong applications, and you need to compete against them.
What are your chances of admission at University of Southern California?
Here's our custom admissions calculator. Plug in your numbers to see what your chances of getting in are.
Note: This is only an estimate for the average student, based on data collected from thousands of students. Other factors in your application may come into play, such as extracurriculars and recommendation letters.
Try to take your current SAT score and add 160 points (or take your ACT score and add 4 points) to the calculator above. See how much your chances improve?
At PrepScholar, we've created the leading online SAT/ACT prep program. We guarantee an improvement of 160 SAT points or 4 ACT points on your score, or your money back.
Here's a summary of why we're so much more effective than other prep programs:
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Every school requires an application with the bare essentials - high school transcript and GPA, application form, and other core information. Many schools, as explained above, also require SAT and ACT scores, as well as letters of recommendation, application essays, and interviews. We'll cover the exact requirements of USC here.
We did more detailed research into this school's admissions process and found the following information:
USC has various majors and programs (including Architecture, Arts, Business, and Music) that require additional application compoenents. Specific information by program is available here. USC offers merit scholarships, most of which you apply for by submitting a complete USC application by December 1. For a complete list, which includes some scholarships that have additional application components, check out this page.
If you're interested in USC, you'll probably be interested in these schools as well. We've divided them into 3 categories depending on how hard they are to get into, relative to USC.
These schools are more selective and have higher scores than USC. If you improve your SAT score, you'll be competitive for these schools.
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